How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

First published in 1936, How to Win Friends and Influence People remains a classic. Dale Carnegie lays out the essential principles for interacting with others. Although much of his advice might be considered common sense, the lessons he teaches are powerful. The core message of this book is to treat people well, and understand that we are all sensitive creatures who simply long to be understood.

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

1) Understand human nature

“When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.” 

Although we’d like to believe ourselves to be rational, the truth is that we are all inherently emotional creatures. People are proud, sensitive, and protective of their fragile egos.

2) Treat people well

“Instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand them. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do. That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism; and it breeds sympathy, tolerance and kindness.”

Rather than tear people down, we should build them up. Our first impulse towards others is often to criticize or acknowledge faults. But no one likes to feel bad about themselves or their mistakes. Be supportive of those around you. Focus on the positive.

3) Become interested in others

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

Most of us are so caught up in our own worlds that we rarely pause to focus on those around us. Turn your gaze outward. Ask people about their interests. Make them feel important. Listen intently and genuinely try seeing things from their perspective.

4) You can’t win an argument

If you argue and rankle and contradict, you may achieve a victory sometimes; but it will be an empty victory because you will never get your opponent's good will.”

According to Dale Carnegie, you can never really win an argument— if you lose it then you lose, but if you win you still lose. The best way to handle arguments is to avoid them altogether.

5) Arouse an eager want

“Arouse in the other person an eager want. He who can do this has the whole world with him. He who cannot walks a lonely way.”

Don’t underestimate the ability to inspire. By appealing to a noble cause and challenging people to do better, we can motivate others to accomplish great things.


The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss is one of the most influential entrepreneurs of our time. His first book, The 4-Hour Work Week, remains a best-seller year after year. In this book, Ferriss urges individuals to rethink our traditional assumptions around work. It is a must-read for anyone interested in entrepreneurship.

The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss

The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss

1) The timing is never right

“The stars will never align and the traffic lights of life will never all be green at the same time…Conditions are never perfect. ‘Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you.”

If you have a dream in mind that you wish to achieve, then stop waiting and start acting. There will never be a perfect time to start. As the ancient Chinese proverb goes, “the best time to start was 20 years ago, but the second best time is now”.

2) Run towards your fears

“Most people will choose unhappiness over uncertainty…What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.”

We often suffer more in our minds than in reality. But our fears are by and large unfounded. Tim Ferriss recommends the regular practice of Fear Setting (rather than Goal Setting) to help you determine which things you should pursue. Once you write down your fears and the potential consequences if they come true, they suddenly have less power of you. You will realize that the worst-case scenarios are really not that bad.

3) Choose your friends carefully

“You are the average of the five people you associate with most, so do not underestimate the effects of your pessimistic, unambitious, or disorganized friends. If someone isn't making you stronger, they're making you weaker.” 

Whoever we spend time with is influencing our behavior and ambitions, whether we are aware of it or not. So choose your friends wisely. Spend time around people who make you better.

4) Leverage your strengths

“It is far more lucrative and fun to leverage your strengths instead of attempting to fix all the chinks in your armor. The choice is between multiplication of results using strengths or incremental improvement fixing weaknesses that will, at best, become mediocre.”

It is an uphill battle to try and fix your weaknesses. We all have strengths in certain areas. The key is to know where your strengths are and how to further amplify your abilities in these areas.

5) Focus on being productive instead of busy

“Doing something unimportant well does not make it important. Requiring a lot of time does not make a task important.”

Many people criticize The 4-Hour Work Week because it sounds like the goal is laziness. But this a misconception. In his book, Tim Ferriss emphasizes the importance of making systems operate as efficiently as possible. This will free you up to invest your time in bigger and better things. We aren’t striving for laziness, but rather better time management. Consider which tasks that could be automated, outsourced, or removed. When starting an entrepreneurial venture, see yourself as a bottleneck to be removed by optimizing systems to function effectively without you.


Principles by Ray Dalio

Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Capital, is considered to be the most successful hedge fund investor in the world. In this book, he shares the core principles that helped guide him to such great achievements. The major theme throughout Principles is this: understand who you are and how you work with others. By engaging in extreme self-awareness, we can set ourselves and our teams up for success.

 
Principles by Ray Dalio

Principles by Ray Dalio

 

1) Define your Principles

“Every day, each of us is faced with a blizzard of situations we must respond to. Without principles we would be forced to react to all the things life throws at us individually, as if we were experiencing each of them for the first time. If instead we classify these situations into types and have good principles for dealing with them, we will make better decisions more quickly and have better lives as a result.”

Instead of constantly reacting to things, we should have systems in place to deal with recurring situations. That way, we can conserve our mental energy and handle issues according to the patterns that characterize them.

2) Recognize your weaknesses

“Our upbringings and our experiences in the world have conditioned us to be embarrassed by our weaknesses and hide them…If you can be open with your weaknesses it will make you freer and will help you deal with them better…Bringing them to the surface will help you break your bad habits and develop good ones, and you will acquire real strengths and justifiable optimism.”

We must be honest with ourselves about our strengths and weaknesses. Otherwise, we are not acting in accordance to our full potential. If we can admit our weaknesses, then we can account for them. There is no shame in recognizing that you are not great at certain things.

3) Practice radical open-mindedness

“If you know that you are blind, you can figure out a way to see, whereas if you don’t know that you’re blind, you will continue to bump into your problems. In other words, if you can recognize that you have blind spots and open-mindedly consider the possibility that others might see something better than you—and that the threats and opportunities they are trying to point out really exist—you are more likely to make good decisions.”

Part of recognizing our weaknesses means being radically open-minded. First acknowledge that you have blind spots, and then have the humility to consider the perspectives of others when making decisions.

4) Let the best ideas win

“ …this experience led me to build Bridgewater as an idea meritocracy—not an autocracy in which I lead and others follow, and not a democracy in which everyone’s vote is equal—but a meritocracy that encourages thoughtful disagreements and explores and weighs people’s opinions in proportion to their merits.”

An idea meritocracy is perhaps the best model for an organization when it comes to decision-making. it’s important to look at problems and opportunities through the lens of whoever is most qualified in that domain.

5) Pain + Reflection = Progress.

“There is no avoiding pain, especially if you’re going after ambitious goals. Believe it or not, you are lucky to feel that kind of pain if you approach it correctly, because it is a signal that you need to find solutions so you can progress. If you can develop a reflexive reaction to psychic pain that causes you to reflect on it rather than avoid it, it will lead to your rapid learning/evolving.”

Pain is an inherent part of any organization pursuing ambitious goals. But it is not necessarily a bad thing. As long as we can learn lessons from the pain we experience, then we will grow, adapt, and evolve.

The Dip by Seth Godin

The Dip is another great book from prolific author Seth Godin. In the world of marketing, Seth Godin is a legend. However, this book is targeted towards a wider audience. Anyone who works on personal projects understands the pain and frustration involved. It can get so bad that we want to quit. But Seth believes quitting is not always a bad thing - as long as we quit the right things at the right time.

 
The Dip by Seth Godin

The Dip by Seth Godin

 

1) The Dip creates scarcity, which creates value

“The Dip is the long slog between starting and mastery…Scarcity, as we’ve seen, is the secret to value. If there wasn’t a Dip, there’d be no scarcity.”

Every project worth doing involves obstacles along the way. If you expect The Dip, then you can prepare for it. If you're not ready for The Dip and the challenges it brings, then don't bother starting in the first place. But know that the rewards at the top are the best for a reason. People quit because of The Dip, which leads to scarcity, which means the most value is just beyond The Dip.

2) Quit the right stuff at the right time

“Sometimes we get discouraged and turn to inspirational writing, like stuff from Vince Lombardi: 'Quitters never win and winners never quit.' Bad advice. Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time. Most people quit. They just don’t quit successfully.”

Quitting is not inherently a bad thing. Depending on the situation, it could be the best decision. But instead of quitting reactively, we should quit strategically. Don't quit just because things start to get challenging. Quit things that are distracting you from what is most important. Quit things that are leading you down a dead end.

3) Decide in advance if you're going to quit

“When the pressure is greatest to compromise, to drop out, or to settle, your desire to quit should be at its lowest. The decision to quit is often made in the moment. But that’s exactly the wrong time to make such a critical decision.”

The decision to quit should not be made in the moment. This is when it is most tempting to quit. Your quitting strategy should be outlined beforehand. You should prepare yourself for the future discomfort before it arrives.

4) Be the best in the world at something

“Anyone who is going to hire you, buy from you, recommend you, vote for you, or do what you want them to do is going to wonder if you’re the best choice. Best as in: best for them, right now, based on what they believe and what they know. And in the world as in: their world, the world they have access to.”

If you're not going to try and be the best, why even start? People want the best. The "best" is subjective though, meaning that it is relative to the needs and desires of every individual. But technology continues to increase access to everything for everyone in the world. So if you're going to compete in some area with everything out there, you better be the best.

5) Don't settle for mediocre

“It’s easier to be mediocre than it is to confront reality and quit. Quitting is difficult. Quitting requires you to acknowledge that you’re never going to be #1 in the world. At least not at this. So it’s easier just to put it off, not admit it, settle for mediocre…The next time you catch yourself being average when you feel like quitting, realize that you have only two good choices: Quit or be exceptional. Average is for losers.”

Sometimes we have to put our pride aside and admit that we're never going to be the best at something. This can be a humbling experience. But once you admit this, it frees you to focus on another project that better coincides with your strengths and interests.